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A happy 'slan leat' to my years of Irish

TUESDAY, June 11 – the day most Leaving Cert students realise they'll never have to learn Irish again.

Although I did Ordinary Level Irish, I did feel slightly sad at the prospect of never uttering a cupla focail again.

However, a lovely pass paper with easy, straightforward questions left me feeling delighted.

Comprehensions on the paper centred around JFK's Irish connection and an article on athlete Fionnuala Britton. The questions on the paper were much simpler than any I had seen before in class and required simply changing around bits of the text.

In hindsight I wished I had looked over Caca Milis the night before, but really there are only so many times you can watch Brendan Gleeson masticating on the train.

The short story 'Dis' also gave me problems asking for a synopsis of a conversation but giving it 25 marks. Really it was just a summary of the story and I stumbled through.

Delightfully, the only poem I really enjoyed on the course, Mo Ghra-Sa (Idir Luibini), came up with uncomplicated questions on liking or disliking the poem.

There was a moment of panic after I misread the word 'saghas duine' (type of person) as 'sagart' (priest) and began waffling on about the poet's husband's life as a pastor. I'm sure the examiner will enjoy those scribbled out attempts.

The second poem was An Spailpin Fanach, the bane of many Pass students' lives.

Long-winded, difficult and boring, I got all my pent-up feeling out when asked did I like the poem: No. Not at all.

Elsewhere, Mo Ghra-Sa also made an appearance on the Higher Level paper, with fair and doable questions.

Oisin in Tir na nÓg made a departure from last year, with Higher Level students now expected to answer two out of three questions, compared to last year's one.

Quite a big ask time-wise, considering the amount Higher Level students are expected to write.

While they were frantically underlining and scribbling, Ordinary Level students were leisurely considering 5-8 lines on a character study.

The genre question at Higher Level always causes confusion and is another example of the massive leap between Pass and Honours.

So there we go, 14 years of learning our language, condensed into one exam.

I hope it was worth it.


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